These last few months many cattlemen and women are working as hard as possible to re-breed their cows, or breed heifers for the first time. This is a vital time for cattlemen and women. Cattle have a gestation of 280-285 days, or about nine months. This means reproduction only happens once a year for these farmers. This time of year, ranchers monitor hormones to make sure cattle come into heat so that eggs can be fertilized.
One major factor in breeding cattle is nutrition. The first thing to be slowed in cattle if they are not receiving the correct nutrients is reproduction. It is important for farmers to assess their cattle’s nutrient intake by taking a close look at both pastures and supplements. Cattle that graze rely on the land for the correct mineral and vitamin balance. Some minerals and vitamins that are very important to cattle during conception are selenium and vitamin E.
Selenium and vitamin E require a delicate balance – low levels lead to deficiency, but high levels can be toxic. Selenium can be deficient in lush green grass that grows quickly, which often occurs in pastures in the spring months. Insufficient levels of selenium can play a roles in infertility. The hard part is that selenium can very easily be supplemented at levels that are too high and can quickly cause a problem, as excessive levels of selenium can pertain to white muscle disease. Producers should be aware of this and take extreme caution when making their own rations.
Vitamin E deficiencies are initiated by the intake of unsaturated fats which are commonly found in whole soybeans and cottonseeds. The list of symptoms and possible outcomes could go on and on just like any other mineral or vitamin can. The important part is to always keep in mind as a producer what can be done to give your animal the perfect balance.
More information on vitamins and minerals can be found at www.beef.osu.edu.